And b-r-e-a-t-h-e: a mum’s peace of mind

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Young man sitting in meditation pose in front of tea set. Relaxation concept

Life is busy for mother of four Clemmie Hooper, 32. As well as daughters aged nine and six, Clemmie has ten-month-old twin girls with husband Simon. She has just finished her book on pregnancy and birth (How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out, which will be published by Vermilion in February next year); writes a blog about mothering (gasandairblog.com), and has more than 86,000 followers on Instagram (@mother_of_daughters). So when she was asked to trial Quility, a new mindfulness app, her first reaction was to say no.

‘I had tried practising mindfulness before and always found 20 more important things to do,’ says Clemmie. ‘But the idea of an app specifically targeted at mums persuaded me. I found it easy to use – much more convenient for me than a book – and very helpful.’

On the app, mindfulness expert Tessa Watt points out that the safety advice for parents on planes is to put on their own oxygen masks first. ‘As a mother, you are so programmed to look after everyone else that you sink to the bottom of the pile,’ says Clemmie. ‘I knew Tessa was right – you can’t pour from an empty cup.’

The Quility app is designed for brief gaps of time. ‘You only need to carve out five or ten minutes twice a day to give yourself breathing space,’ says Clemmie. ‘Walking back from taking the older children to school I practise mindfulness, mostly being aware of my breath and reconnecting with my body – noticing if I am so tense that my shoulders are pushed sky high, for instance.’

Clemmie’s dentist told her she was grinding her teeth at night. ‘I was anxious when I should be most relaxed,’ she says. Rather than checking emails in bed, Clemmie now turns off her phone notifications and ‘zones out’ with Quility.

‘Now, when everything is going pear-shaped – we’re out of milk, a child is drawing on the wall, everyone is kicking off – I don’t have the same knee-jerk reaction,’ she says. ‘I used to snap, shout, lose my temper – instead I pause for five seconds and breathe. The situation doesn’t change but I’m better at coping with it, so everyone is calmer.’

Coming up to Christmas, Clemmie’s resolution is to not cram in too much. ‘If Saturday is busy, we have a chilled Sunday,’ she says. ‘We are spending Christmas with my husband’s family and when his mother says, “Don’t bring anything except yourselves”, for the first time I will take her at her word.’

• To download the Quility app, with free exercises and guides, visit quility.me

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

It is the ability to be fully in the resent moment, aware of where we are and what we are doing, but not overreacting or being overwhelmed by what is going on around us.

Practising mindfulness starts with focusing on your breath going in and out of your nostrils, then absorbing the sensations of your body and environment.

Research shows that people who practise mindfulness are calmer, more aware of their thoughts and feelings, able to focus and manage their emotions better.